Mindset, response capacity, communication, experience critical against COVID-19

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Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020 shows an exterior view of the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO on Wednesday night extended to Thursday its emergency talks on whether the novel coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). (Xinhua/Liu Qu)

A senior World Health Organization (WHO) expert recommended on Tuesday that to prepare for COVID-19, countries may need to change their mindset, build up response capacity, provide risk communication and learn from other countries that have the experience against the disease, especially China.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, team lead of the WHO-China joint mission on COVID-19, said at a daily briefing on the disease that the first thing is mindset shift if countries are to get ready for the virus.”The thing you got to think is, if it hits us, we’re going to stop it, you have to think that way,” he said. If people would just accept the arrival of the disease and let it spread, “you’ve lost before you’ve started.

“Then countries need to build up their response capacity by, for example, preparing more beds to accommodate the patients, facilities to quarantine close contacts, enough ventilators for serious cases, lab capacity for testing and diagnostics, and transportation to relocate patients to medical facilities, he said.”Hopefully, you’ll never use that. But if you’re ready to do that, you’re going to be ready for an awful lot of things, but it’s readiness and rapid response capacity,” he noted.

Besides, the authorities in countries need to “talk to your population” to let them know the disease is coming, and make the public aware of the importance of keeping personal hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, but don’t make a run on the masks. “Because that probably doesn’t make a difference.” For the infected areas, protection equipment need to be well prepared.

Last but not least, countries can learn from others that have already had the experience fighting the disease.”China has gotten really good at managing the disease,” Dr. Aylward said, citing the fact that China is still testing tens of thousands of people every day using CT scan instead of X ray, as “you can find disease that you can’t find on X ray” and “they have systems to make it work.”He also hailed the robust measures taken in China to contain the disease, as well as the solidarity of its population during the implementation of the measures.

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